LAS VEGAS, Nev. –To help modernize the way parts are ordered, SAF-Holland has brought digital life to its parts catalogue.
SAF-HOLLAND POD parts information screen
At its press event at the Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week in Las Vegas, SAF-Holland introduced its aftermarket Parts on Demand (POD) electronic parts catalogue that operates like a typical shopping Web page.
“We are now starting to see more of our customers starting to be highly interested in better, quicker, more efficient ways of finding parts information, giving information to their customers sooner, hopefully in real time,” said Juan Hernandez, international marketing and sourcing manager, aftermarket business unit, SAF-Holland. “Knowing that, we want to make sure we provide our customers with the right tools. That’s why we decided to launch what I consider one of the most powerful tools out there right now in the heavy duty aftermarket parts industry.”
With the launch of POD, distributors now have access to more than 15,000 assembly numbers, and 15 years of sales data at their fingertips. Customers can search products, view the availability and price and order parts all within a few clicks and without having to pick up a phone.
“We loaded 15 years of sales history of SAF-Holland on POD,” Hernandez continued. “We very carefully studied every suspension that in the last 15 years, our company has sold and has put in the OE channel. We did the same with the fifth wheel assembly…we did the same thing with the landing gears, and we did the same thing with every single product line that we have. All that important information has been loaded into POD from the last 15 years. It doesn’t mean we have outdated information there, but there is information there that is still very important.”
SAF-HOLLAND POD fifth wheel screen
Hernandez went onto to say that when developing POD, a large focus was placed on the Web site being easy and quick to use.
“It has to be easy tool to use, otherwise they’re not going to use it,” he said. “And it’s pretty simple. It’s going to make our customers’ lives easier.”
Members of the press invited to SAF-Holland’s media event were allowed to watch a real-time demonstration on how POD worked. Customers have to simply login using a username and password for the electronic catalogue and then search for the part needed using the POD’s search tools.
The tool, which, Hernandez claims has been developed over the last two years, allows customers/distributors to find parts information, price and availability, download parts manuals, get warranty information, cross-reference (if a part become obsolete or if a part has been replaced with another) and order online.
SAF-Holland also says POD will be launched as a mobile platform (application) in the second quarter of this year.
Carl Mesker, vice-president, aftermarket business unit, SAF-Holland said that POD was part of the company’s commitment to service the needs of its aftermarket customers. In addition to POD, SAF-Holland has developed an aftermarket sales team across North America that is to grow within the year, rewritten the aftermarket parts catalogues in a form that made sense, and has created a distribution warehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“We strategically picked Cincinnati, Ohio because from there, you can satisfy 75% of our customer base in less than two days LTL,” said Mesker. “Prior to having a warehouse, our customers were receiving parts from five different plants, packaged five different ways, across three different time zones, so we had no control over how it was getting to the customer. It was a nightmare…Today, all of the product goes into Cincinnati, and whether its landing gear, fifth wheel, suspension, it all comes out of Cincinnati together, it’s all barcoded, it’s all boxed and labelled the way it needs to be labelled.”
Though American customers have access to the POD catalogue today, Canadian customers will have to wait for the program to be ready for next quarter, at the latest by the end of 2015.
“We have covered all the licensing for that part of it,” said Hernandez. “The biggest portion of making that happen is the back end of it…the real work comes with the IT department in making sure that this package communicates well with our system.”
In the meantime, Canadians will have to use the enhanced catalogues.
Sonia Straface is the associate editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface. All posts by Sonia Straface